According to Bob Herbold, a former chief operating officer at Microsoft, Apple hasn't been the same since Steve Jobs died. Cook, who became chief executive after Jobs' death (and served as acting CEO when Jobs took a medical leave prior to his death), is nothing more than an "administrator" of Apple, Herbold implies in an article he penned for Forbes. Though he doesn't mention Cook by name, Herbold says Apple needs "a visionary leader, not an administrator." "The leader needs to be paranoid about making the core offerings of the organization more exciting and more impactful with its customers," Herbold wrote. "That sounds simple, but doing it with clarity and speed is absolutely necessary. You must avoid any kind of bureaucracy that can water down the impact of your efforts or slow it to a snail's pace."
Deep personal involvement is necessary. The leader needs to personally get involved with the details. The vision and the distinctiveness may be based on hard-core scientific technology or can be related to improving the customer experience. Lou Gerstner exemplifies such personal involvement. He spent most of his first three months with the company simply talking to customers about their information-technology challenges, but by the time he was finished and had launched his services vision, his employees knew and the outside public knew that this guy knew customers and was determined to help them. Likewise Steve Jobs personally led the conceptualization and development of the easy-to-use leading-edge products that enabled him to be so massively successful.
3You must have the guts to lead. The leader has to get out in front and take a stand and truly lead the troops as well as the outside followers and customers. Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm does a good job of this. If you follow him closely you realize he not only is a technology wizard but has nerves of steel and knows what he wants to accomplish. He is not a high-profile, charismatic type; he’s simply a strong person who oozes self-confidence and has a proven track record.
Apple could surprise us in the next six to nine months by emerging with yet another big new idea. On the other hand, I think the stock market is telling us that the public is beginning to believe that Apple really doesn’t have strong visionary leadership. Apple will be a solid technology company but the Apple era may be on its way out.